How can I open python file (from desktop) with IDLE, using Terminal on Ubuntu 12.04?

I have tried to do this way:

$ idle open python_file.py

Instead of open my file it's create two more files: open and python_file.py.


It's just

idle python_file.py

If you want it to run in the background (returning control to the terminal so you can type other commands), add '&'

idle python_file.py &

If you want it to continue running even if you close the terminal you can 'disown' it

idle python_file.py & disown

You do not need to use the 'open' term. The help says:

idle.py [-c command] [-d] [-e] [-s] [-t title] [arg] ...

-c command  run this command
-d          enable debugger
-e          edit mode; arguments are files to be edited
-s          run $IDLESTARTUP or $PYTHONSTARTUP first
-t title    set title of shell window

You can just do this:

idle file_you_want_to_open.py 
idle.py file_you_want_to_open.py

If the file doesn't exist then it will be created.


You can also directly open idle by typing :


in the terminal and then click on

 File >> New File or Open File

option to select or open your file , write your program and execute it . However I would recommend you to use the "terminal" and a "text editor" like

 Sublime Text

rather than using "idle" .

PS: You might already know about these text editors , however I mentioned it in case somebody else new views this article and maybe it comes in handy .


First you have to install idle

sudo apt install idle

then just type


and it should open


Do this:

$ cd ~/Desktop
$ idle your_file.py
  • 3
    This does not include the steps on how to open a specific file. I guess some step is missing here?
    – gertvdijk
    Aug 26 '13 at 12:18

If you want to get your command prompt back after executing idle you could use:

nohup idle /some/path/to/file.py &

or if the file is in your current directory:

$ ls
$ nohup idle file.py &

Of course the last one will work if you are in the current directory, if the file do not exist IDLE will create one.


To install and use latest idle,

Go to synaptic package manager and install idle-python3.2

Then go to terminal and just type


This will open idle-python3.2.

Installation location => idle-python3.2 in SPM->(select)->idle-python3.2->(right-click)->properties->Installed Files.

  • That tells us how to install Idle; it doesn't answer the OP's question, which was how to open a file once Idle is installed.
    – John N
    Jan 18 '17 at 14:54

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